Body of Light Practice Workshop
19th November 2006A complete practice means firstly listening to our personal needs. This is Yoga. We spend months, often years learning postures in classes along side others, gathering inspiration, knowledge, generating and sharing each others energy. This is also Yoga. Yoga is not something we do but something we are, or become through practice. So, in many ways it doesn’t matter what we practice as long as we give ourselves a period of time each day to sink into a state where the mind devotes to the body, breath and Pranic energy that surrounds and runs through us all the time often unknowingly. By becoming aware and giving it full attention without distraction is Yoga. Asana is the first helpful stage in this process because it frees up, aligns and strengthens the physical body, leaving it dependable and receptive to healthy Prana/chi flow. Body alignment avoids stress or strain to muscles, joints and the deeper layers that hold us together and allow us to function efficiently.
By cultivating a practice of balance between the different ‘types’ of Asana or postures we maintain our bodies to the best of our ability. The range of Asana types are: Standing, Inversions, Balancing, Sitting, Forward Bending, Twisting, Prone (lying on your belly), Back Bending, Supine (Lying on your back)
Practicing them in balance brings understanding of the more subtle and powerful aspects of Yoga:
Pranayama, concentration, Meditation and total absorption. (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) Then comes the Bliss, Peace and Contentment! We may experience it only for fleeting moments, but that moment is ever more powerful. We cannot find it by chasing or grasping. Yoga is the natural way of being, and not to be mistaken for something we do to get us somewhere or give us a pre-determined result. I say this as an invitation to investigate each breath, each movement and sensation you experience without jumping to any preconceptions or goals. Simply let go of attentions that are other than the very breath you are taking at the moment.The mind becomes quiet when it cultivates friendliness in the presence of happiness, active compassion in the presence of unhappiness, joy in the presence of virtue, and indifference toward error
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Sutra 1.33To begin with...
- Centre the Mind and stay Connected to the Breath. Your breathing pattern will remind you to relax throughout practice and bring your mind back to your experience and sensations.
- Loosen your joints, muscles and get the blood and lymph system flowing before going into deeper practice. Cat, Dog and Sun Salutations are good. Don’t stretch or work very deeply until the body is prepared and energy flowing.
- Build up practice from simple to complex. Challenging postures are best done when the body is warm and the mind alert and focussed. Avoid pushing for results once you are tired.
Towards the end…..
- Settle, cool down and integrate. Practice gentle counter-poses if you’ve worked strongly on specific Asana before Savasana (Corpse pose), or Sitting Meditation. This is when we integrate the experience and absorb the practice. Stay attentive and you’ll be left feeling light, clear and refreshed. I have listed below a few counter-poses:
Forward Bends - Purvottasana (East Stretch), Setu Band asana (Bridge) - with a transitional simple gentle twist or 2 in-between.
Back Bends - Paschimottansana (West Strech), Uttanasana (Forward Stretch) - with a transitional Supta Padangusthasana (Lying Leg stretches), Bharadvajasana (Sage Pose) in-between.
Arm Balance - Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upwards Bow or Crab), Purvottasana (East Stretch)- with a transitional Jathara Parivartasana (Revolved Belly) in-between.
- Kriyas - Apanasana
- Suryanamaska 1 & 2
- Tadasana (Mountain) ‘Down to Earth’ ground the body and anchor the mind
- Sirsasana (head balance) Vrksasana (Tree) Virabhadrasana (Warrior) and other standing poses Adhomukha Vrksasana (Full arm balance)
- Dandasana (stick) Strengthen and open back muscles and tone the front body.
- Uttanasana (forward stretch) Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle) Marichyasanas
- Navasana (Boat) Adhomukha Svanasana (Down Facing Dog)
- Salambasana (Locust) Open heart and front body, strengthen back. Release heat and toxins from central organs, tone large intestine. Build courage, tenacity and receptivity
- Dhanurasana (Bow) Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow) Bhujangasana (Cobra)
- Purvottansana (East Stretch)
Asana that don‘t fit into other categories, many Lateral. Focus on parts of the body, and skills often neglected. Develop Balance, co-ordination and rhythm. Build resourcefulness, tenacity and imagination
- Parsva Bakasana (twisted Crane) Anantasana (couch) Parighasana (Gateway)
- Savasana (Corpse) supine poses are restorative, neutralising and balancing the body and allowing the mind to integrate practice. Calm the nervous system and rejuvenate. Store energy, strengthen immune system and cultivate passion for yourself, others and life
- Viparita Karani (Rejuvenator) Salamba Setubandhasana (Supported Bridge)
Thank You !